Provincial tournaments won't be affected by teachers' job action

Provincial tournaments won’t be affected by teachers’ job action

B.C. Boys AAA Basketball Championship is set to begin Tuesday at the Langley Events Centre.

The B.C. Boys AAA Basketball Championship is set to begin Tuesday, and tournament director John Buis doesn’t expect the event to be affected by teachers’ current job action.

The B.C. Teachers Federation has advised the province’s teachers to work bell-to-bell, meaning any prep work and extra-curriculars – including sports – normally done after regular school day are cancelled.

High schools are closed next week for spring break, and many teams taking part in basketball provincials, held at the Langley Events Centre, are coached by teachers. However, some teams – like White Rock Christian Academy, for instance – are from private schools and/or coached by community coaches who not associated with the BCTF.

And while Buis has not heard one way or another if any teams would be no-shows – “I don’t know, I really don’t,” he said – he’s confident teams will all show up to play.

“I’m not a teacher, I’m just a cop who runs a basketball tournament, so I don’t have any inside knowledge, but I have heard – and this is third-hand, mind you – that the (job action) is not supposed to affect events that are already paid for, or have contracts signed,” he said.

“And we have a pretty big contract with the Langley Events Centre.”

Buis’ confidence was buoyed by the fact that the senior girls basketball provincials, which began March 7 and wraps up Saturday at Vancouver’s Capilano University, has been staged without incident despite the BCTF’s bell-to-bell mandate.

Sue Keenan, executive director of BC School Sports, the governing body that oversees high school athletics, reinforced Buis’s belief that the tournament – and others like it – would go ahead for the foreseeable future.

“We are definitely going ahead,” she said.

“Student-athletes have worked way too hard to get to this point for us to cancel… and to be honest, we have got way too much money, time and effort vested in staging these events.”

She allowed for the possibility that some teacher-coaches may not wish to participate, but hoped others would step up if that turns out to be the case.

“We know that after school sports are extra curricular and voluntary…ary and we have not just teacher-coaches but community-coaches and parent-coaches involved. Teacher-coaches are going to have to make a decision and if they are adamant they are not planning on bringing their teams, our hope is that administrators, parent-sponsors, other district staff will step up and take their teams forward.

“This is about keeping our student athletes foremost in the fronts of our minds.”

Buis said an absent team would be treated in the same manner as one that failed to show up for any other reason, be it weather or travel problems: they’d forfeit the missed game.

“But in all my years involved in this tournament – and I go back to the early ’70s (as a player), we’ve never had that happen,” he said.

“Once, at the Agrodome, we had a stoppage for a couple hours when a backboard broke and we had to find a replacement, but that’s it.”

Basketball provincials aside, the high-school sports calendar is typically slower this time of year, though many spring sports, like rugby, are currently practising in advance of their seasons.

At many schools, those practices have been cancelled.

In a message posted on Twitter last Wednesday, Sullivan Heights athletic director Ryan Neufeld (@teacherneuf) announced via Twitter, “Dear Sullivan students: I regret to inform you that all athletics teams are OFF for Thursday and Friday. I will update season status later.”

– with files from Gary Ahuja